Michael Jackson and James Brown shared a moment at the 2003 BET Awards.
The unexpected passing of Michael Jackson provided BET with a very unique opportunity to do a timely tribute to one of the world’s greatest entertainers with some of today’s brightest talent. Yes, they only had a few days to pull it off and yes award shows are very complicated to produce, but they had a chance to do it right.
BET failed miserably.
I knew I was in for a long show when New Edition opened with that less than stellar performance. I love New Edition, but that was not good. Johnny Gill did however redeem himself later during the O’Jays tribute with Tyrese and Trey Songz. The whole show was awkward because BET honchos decided to free up time for tributes by not reading the names of nominees for most of the awards. So there was no suspense and no sense of competition. It was just poorly executed.
The ONLY person who hit it out of the park in terms of honoring MJ was Ne-Yo. His “Lady in My Life” performance was excellent. Ciara‘s performance was embarrassing. I like to see her dance, but she doesn’t have the strongest voice in the world. Why would I want to hear her sing with nothing but a piano in the background? And why oh why were there no dance tributes? Jamie Foxx was purposely trying to be funny with the “Beat It” thing in the beginning, so I won’t count that.
BET should have pulled together an exciting highlight reel of MJ’s performances and topped it off with Ne-Yo doing his thing and maybe Usher doing a dance number and then just waited a week or two to put together a proper, star-studded tribute.
I will say though that there were some good performances that were not tributes. Jay-Z, Jamie Foxx (with Travis Barker on the drums), Maxwell, Monica, Keyshia Cole and the O’Jays were all entertaining and fun to watch. Beyonce sounded pretty good on “Ave Maria,” but I would much rather see her do “Single Ladies” or something like that. She always does a great job with the dance numbers.
Joe Jackson sat in the front row for that entire show and I am so embarrassed. BET did not do right by Michael Jackson with that “tribute.” I’m looking forward to seeing what other networks have in mind because that ain’t it.